Kinesiology vs. physical therapy – What’s the difference?

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Kinesiology vs. physical therapy: Kinesiotherapists and physical therapists are vital medical community members.

They assist patients in regaining strength, recovering from injuries, and regaining the ability to live independently.

Some people use the job titles interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two professional pathways. In this article, we will compare and contrast kinesiology with physical therapy.

What is Kinesiology?

Kinesiology refers to the study of human movement from a scientific perspective. The study of kinesiology examines the physiological, anatomical, pathological, and cognitive principles and mechanisms that underlie movement.

Applications of kinesiology to human health include biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; motor control; skill acquisition and learning; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise physiology.

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Kinesiology also has applications in the field of exercise physiology. Measurements from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of both muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and various other behavioral and cognitive research techniques are all a part of the research that goes into the study of human and animal motion.

What is physical therapy?

A member of the allied health professions, physical therapy (PT), also referred to as physiotherapy, has another name. Physical therapists are the ones who provide this service.

They promote, maintain, or restore health by performing physical examinations, making diagnoses, managing patients’ conditions, providing prognoses, educating patients, performing physical interventions, rehabilitating patients, preventing diseases, and more. In several nations, physiotherapists are individuals who do physical therapy.

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Research, education, consultation, and health administration are some of the responsibilities of a physical therapist. In some countries and regions, such as the United Kingdom, physical therapists act in the capacity of medical prescribers.

What are the critical differences between kinesiology vs. physical therapy?

Physiotherapy, more commonly referred to as “physio,” focuses on assisting patients in improving their function, mobility, and range of motion.

As part of the rehabilitation process, someone who has recently undergone knee replacement surgery, for instance, might go to physiotherapy.

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The patient will work with the physiotherapist to help strengthen their knee and expand the range of motion in their knee joint, making it easier for them to move while reducing the pain and discomfort they experience.

Kinesiology, commonly referred to as kin, takes a more holistic approach to the practice of medicine. Kinesiologists are committed to helping people achieve their full potential in their ability to move and function well throughout life.

Exercise is a strategy that kinesiologists use to treat and prevent injuries and health conditions and promote overall health and wellness. Kinesiologists study the physiological as well as the biomechanical aspects of human movement.

To assist you in leading a life that is both more functional and free of pain is the primary goal of a kinesiologist.

Suppose you have a health condition, injury, or disability that requires help managing. In that case, it is in your best interest to work with a kinesiologist to help you increase your fitness level and mobility.

What are some of the similarities between kinesiology vs. physical therapy?

There are similarities between physiotherapy and kinesiology, even though the two fields are very different. The following are some of these:

  • Overall purpose: Physiotherapy and kin therapy improve your general functionality, quality of life, and understanding of how to keep your health and well-being in good shape.
  • Conditions: There is substantial duplication in the diagnoses that can potentially treat these treatments.
  • Design: Both occupational and physical therapy involve hands-on care adapted to meet the patient’s requirements.
  • Tasks: Kinesiologists, for instance, may also instruct their patients in stretches or exercises. A physiotherapist works to help with day-to-day activities, which involve getting in and out of the bathtub, for example.
  • Goals and monitoring: are established in both types of therapy, and your progress toward achieving those goals is evaluated at regular intervals.

What does a physiotherapist do?

A physiotherapist collaborates with patients to build individualized treatment plans to restore the maximum amount of functional capacity and mobility feasible.

They assist patients at various phases of life, from infancy to old age, whose function and movement are affected as a result of the following conditions:

  • Injury
  • Disease
  • Health conditions
  • Aging
  • Weight issues
  • Environmental factors
  • Disorders 

When is physiotherapy necessary?

When you have an acute ailment that restricts your movement or range of motion, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The following are some possible applications of physio:

  • increasing one’s range of motion after suffering an injury
  • recovery following an operation or treatment
  • pain management
  • inflammatory disorders of the joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis
  • disorders related to the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and rehabilitation following a stroke
  • diseases that affect the hands, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger
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In what ways should one consider the need for care?

You will adapt the treatment mode provided to you specifically to meet your requirements in this regard.

The physiotherapist will conduct an in-depth examination of your medical history and present state of health to devise a treatment strategy and objectives.

Physiotherapists make use of several different techniques, including the following:

  • massage
  • Utilization of high temperatures and low ones
  • ultrasound
  • electrical stimulation
  • stretching
  • interaction with one’s hands
  • focused physical therapy workouts

What does a kinesiologist do?

Kinesiologists apply research findings to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness and injury, as well as enhance movement and performance.

Kinesiologists work with individuals of all ages and levels of physical ability in various settings to assist them in achieving their health and wellness objectives and improving their quality of life.

The following are some of the areas of practice involving kinesiology:

  • Encouragement of good health
  • management of chronic diseases
  • public health
  • ergonomics and safety precautions in the workplace
  • rehabilitation from an injury
  • Fitness and athletics 
  • planning for a patient’s return to work and managing their disability

When is the study of kinesiology necessary?

Kinesiology studies human movement, performance, and function from a scientific perspective.

Kinesiology is a field of study that considers not only the biological disciplines of anatomy and physiology but also neurology and the psychological and social aspects of the movement.

Research proven to be effective is used by Kins to diagnose, treat, and prevent injuries and diseases, as well as to enhance mobility and performance.

In various contexts, Kinspeople collaborate with individuals of varying ages and physical ability levels to assist them in achieving their health and wellness objectives and enhancing their quality of life. The following are examples of some applications of kinesiology:

  • clinical kinesiology services
    1. musculoskeletal assessment
    2. postural evaluation and education
    3. rehabilitative and functional retraining exercise
    4. fitness conditioning for weight loss, cardiovascular training, and muscular development
    5. diabetes management strategies
    6. cardiac rehabilitation
    7. cancer rehabilitation
    8. stroke rehabilitation
    9. mental health management
    10. corporate wellness program design and implementation
  • assessment services
    1. functional ability evaluation
    2. return-to-work coordination and implementation
    3. case/program management
    4. an automobile accident or disability claims management
    5. gait assessment
    6. sport and exercise-related injury assessment
  • ergonomics
    1. task analysis
    2. physical demands description/analysis
    3. musculoskeletal disorder hazard and risk assessment
    4. office and industrial workstation (re)design
    5. job shadowing/coaching
    6. work hardening programs

In what ways should one consider the need for care?

The kinesiology will look through your medical history and assess your current health to determine your requirements. After that, they will use this information to construct a treatment plan and establish particular targets.

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The following are some of the activities that may be required when dealing with kinesiologists:

  • Find out your aims or ambitions concerning your health and get a comprehensive health history.
  • Conduct an assessment. The evaluations are different for each patient because they depend on the reason they are seeing a kinesiologist. The tests of strength and flexibility, evaluations of the cardiovascular system, gait, cognitive psychometric evaluations, and physical demands analyses are some examples of routine evaluations.
  • I will sit with you to go over the results of the evaluation.
  • Provide you with a customized treatment plan that will allow you to achieve your aims and purposes.
  • Require consent before beginning the treatment plan, as well as for the expenses and the method of billing.
  • Frequently, you should measure your progress, and you should adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
  • Offer guidance as well as educational opportunities concerning your health.
  • Keep a record of the care provided for you, and ensure that all of your personal health information is preserved in a secure and discreet location.
  • When it comes to patient care, collaborate with other medical professionals.

Kinesiology vs. physical therapy-Which of them should you choose?

So how exactly can you figure out what kind of working environment best suits you? That is dependent on both your current state and the particular requirements you have.

If you have an acute ailment that is impairing your ability to walk or move a body part without pain, you should probably consider getting some physiotherapy. They can assist you in reducing discomfort and improving your mobility, strength, and range of motion by working with you.

It’s also possible that you’ve been dealing with a persistent injury or illness that’s harming your quality of life. Working with a kinesiologist could be beneficial in devising a management strategy to improve your overall quality of life.

It is essential to discuss with your primary care physician the mode of treatment that is most appropriate for you. They will be able to help advise you on the benefits of each therapy, as well as whether one is appropriate for your particular circumstances.


Kinesiology vs. physical therapy: These are different types of healthcare, but there are some critical differences between the two. A physiotherapist uses more passive treatments (for instance, manual therapy), whereas a kinesiologist uses more active approaches (for example, exercise therapy). If you and your doctor collaborate closely, decide which treatment will be most effective for you.

Edited by: George Angel

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